Celtic's game plan against Stockport had to be changed when the Hatters were reduced to nine men before half time, but the change was successful and resulted in Celtic grabbing their first win at Edgeley Park in emphatic fashion.
The first half saw Celtic press the hosts, pushing most of the play into Stockport's half, Danny Wisdom made his first start, and got an early chance, but couldn't really test Danny Hurst in the County nets. Adam Farrell's more powerful shot was probably wider than it looked, but Celtic's best chance came just before the half hour mark with a free from Farrell that smashed against the underside of the bar, but somehow stayed out.
After a clumsy tackle from Matty Hughes on Glenn Rule, Rule responded very aggressively, and appeared to bite Hughes's thigh. The referee took one look at Hughes's thigh and dismissed Rule instantly. A couple of minutes later and a clearance from McMillan saw Alex Johnson set off chasing, and Danny Hurst came out of his area to inexplicably handle the ball. He didn't need to and Stockport were down to nine. Without a sub keeper on the bench, Karl Ledsham, who had only just come on because of Rule's dismissal, went between the sticks.
Both sides needed to get to half time, though Celtic did have two more chances, they looked rushed. Liam Watson was going to earn his pay in the dressing room.
The second half saw textbook football from Celtic. They played it around well, nothing dangerous, nothing rushed. Stockport were forced into chasing shadows. Lewis Montrose and Sefton Gonzales never stopped running. But it was tiring them out. Celtic played their way up the field, and though Ledsham had caught a couple of crosses, and made a fairly easy stop from Farrell, there was nothing he could do from the corner, Jack Higgins flicking it past him.
An Aidan Chippendale cross was sent into the mix and caused all kinds of problems for the Stockport defence, and Jordan Thorniley was forced to acrobatically hack the ball off the line. The ball came out to Ben McKenna, twenty yards from goal, who lashed a volley straight back and into the top corner.
But anybody who thought Stockport were going to capitulate were wrong. Paul Connolly and Jake Kirby both getting chances during a high pressure period from Stockport . They didn't really have the energy to continue it thanks to Celtic's earlier tactics. Celtic put a gloss on the result when firstly Ben McKenna tried another distance shot that Ledsham did really well to get to, but he was stationary when McKenna's cross was flicked past him by Adam Farrell. Ledsham saved Stockport a drubbing with two fine late saves as Stockport were unable to keep up any more. Bohan Dixon's shot was tipped away with a flying save, and McKenna's effort in stoppage time was tipped over the bar with another really good save.
It was a text book performance by Celtic, with Liam Watson coming with a good game plan, and have the experience to change it when the chance arose.
|3||Garvin, Joe||> 52|
|7||Baggie, Alex||> 36|
|10||Robinson, Andrew||> 5|
|12||Ellison, Ryan||< 52|
|16||Kirby, Jake||< 5|
|17||Ledsham, Karl||< 36|